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Driving the Future of PostgreSQL Adoption

von  Umair Shahid, Percona (sponsor) , 15. November 2021
Tags: Open source DBMS, Percona, PostgreSQL

This is a sponsored post.

PostgreSQL has been rapidly gaining in popularity. The Stack Overflow Developer survey ranked it as the most wanted database and DB-Engines declared it the DBMS of the year 2020. PostgreSQL has seen steady growth in popularity, outpacing any other database. It is ACID compliant, secure, fast, reliable, with a liberal license, and backed by a vibrant community.
We have come this far. Where do we go from here?

Databases are evolving

The past decade has seen rapid growth in specialized databases, with names like MongoDB, Cassandra, Redis, Neo4J, and many others rapidly gaining popularity. The need for these databases was driven primarily by the rapidly evolving needs of application development and the inability of relational databases to offer efficient solutions to modern problems. This was spearheaded by the popularity of NoSQL, with developers breaking free of the restrictions of SQL and the relational model to allow scaling out of their applications.
But as NoSQL grew in popularity, it was accompanied by a growing realization that the world couldn’t survive without SQL. This is when champions of NoSQL started to shift their narrative, with the new mantra being: it’s not “No SQL”, it’s “Not Only SQL”. It was only a matter of time that these specialized databases started gravitating towards general purpose platforms. Some interesting examples include ACID guarantees in MongoDB and modules for graph, JSON, & time series in Redis.
In the meanwhile, the more traditional relational databases weren’t exactly sitting still. This may be more true for PostgreSQL than any other relational database - mostly attributable to a very disciplined annual release cycle that adds, on an average, 150+ new features with each release. One only has to look at the rapid evolution of JSON, GIS, time series, and distributed workload capabilities in recent releases to see how PostgreSQL has been fighting back.
PostgreSQL’s future adoption will be driven by how well it balances its relational capabilities with the need to scale modern applications.

Decision making is evolving

Gone are the days when deals were closed by executives on a golf course. The time when you could convince the top executive of the company to start using your product or services, and they would drive the decision from the top down. That was the Sales Led Growth model popular in the 80s and 90s. Earlier in this century, it gave way to Marketing Led Growth - relying on brand development, advertising, content, and inbound leads. For most businesses, this shifted the decision making away from the top executive and distributed it amongst a few select senior executives of the company.
We are living in an age where Marketing Led Growth is increasingly being nudged out by a more evolved model that targets grass root decision making in today’s world - Product Led Growth. Today, decision making is increasingly bottom-up. Where actual users get to decide which products will suit their needs best. Where the only way to ensure a future for your product is to delight the end user.
Who are the end users for databases? Application developers.
Note that application developers are not database experts. The focus of their decision making is to make their development efforts efficient and their days more productive. This is also what’s driving cloud native application development and the massive move of enterprise data to the cloud.
For far too long, database vendors have been able to get away with complicated UIs and poor UX. This is because the decision to choose the database was far removed from the actual users of the database.
PostgreSQL’s future adoption will be driven by how easy it is for application developers to deploy, use, and maintain their required database.

The spirit of open source

Open source software development has taken the world by storm, and especially when it comes to infrastructure software like databases, it is the go-to development model for technologists. It allows for collaboration across a diverse set of users and developers, each bringing unique ideas and contributing to the robustness. Readily accessible source code enhances reliability and addresses most of the privacy and ‘backdoor’ concerns. Most of all, however, open source is popular because it is free.
But wait - let’s take a moment to understand what ‘free’ means.
The spirit of open source captures ‘free’ in a much broader meaning than mere costs of software.
The power of open source comes from freedom:
  • The freedom of choice
  • The freedom of usage
  • The freedom to scale
  • The freedom to deploy - whenever & wherever
  • The freedom against vendor lock-in
Way too often, venture capital funded companies would want to make a quick buck using open source software. Their business model takes the form of open core, freemium, proprietary extensions, or something similar. The idea almost always is to lock their users in and generate higher revenue. The reason that this often gets overlooked is that lots of money is being poured into open source software, however, the software vendor is not the only recipient of that money anymore. In today’s cloud-first world, it gets distributed between consultants, SIs, cloud vendors, and the software vendor. In that push for revenue from the software vendor, the true spirit of open source is lost.
PostgreSQL’s future adoption will be driven by maintaining and promoting the spirit of open source software - freedom.


About the Author:
Umair Shahid portrait photo

Umair Shahid is the Head of PostgreSQL at Percona and a well-respected veteran of the PostgreSQL community.

Based in Islamabad, Pakistan, he has been working in the PostgreSQL ecosystem for almost 20 years, contributing to the community as well as driving commercial success. He was previously the Head of Products & Marketing at 2ndQuadrant.

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